VisualArt Exchanging glances Lydia Corry and Caroline Walker explore constructions of femininity through a history of representing women in art, as Talitha Kotzé discovers
T H E B E S T E X H I B I T I O N S
✽✽ Blue and Silver: Whistler and the Thames Superbly executed exhibition, which builds a narrative around James McNeill Whistler’s depiction of the old Battersea Bridge. See review, page 89. Hunterian Gallery, Glasgow, until Sat 8 Jan. ✽✽ Simon Starling: Project for a Masquerade (Hiroshima) Conceptual show from the Turner Prize winner, which brings together references to the East-West divide. The Modern Institute, Glasgow, until Tue 7 Dec. ✽✽ Alasdair Gray: Gray Stuff Last chance to catch this exhibition of murals, sketches, book cover designs and posters. Talbot Rice Gallery, Edinburgh, until Sat 11 Dec. ✽✽ Artur Zmijewski: Democracies Twenty short films depicting mass gatherings around Europe. See picture caption, page 92. Tramway, Glasgow, until Sun 12 Dec. ✽✽ Interference With Twigs Group show featuring work from installation artists Lotte Gertz and Nicolas Party, painter Audrey Capel and Hanna Sandin. Mary Mary, Glasgow until Sat 15 Jan. ✽✽ Childish Things: Fantasy and Ferocity in Recent Art Group show exploring the representation of toys and early childhood in art. Fruitmarket Gallery, Edinburgh, until Sun 23 Jan. ✽✽ Bobby Niven The filmmaker documents attempts to build absurd sculptures. See review, page 89. Sierra Metro, Edinburgh, until Sun 6 Feb. ✽✽ Christine Borland: Cast From Nature The acclaimed sculptor creates new work that explores the performative aspects of the doctor/patient relationship. Glasgow Sculpture Studios, until Fri 25 Mar. ✽✽ Lydia Corry and Caroline Walker: Love is an Ocular Sickness Paintings and illustrations from the pair of GSA-trained artists. See preview, left. Intermedia Gallery, CCA, Glasgow, Fri 3–Sat 18 Dec.
The symptoms of mental illness have often been used to describe the state of being in love. Plato discussed love as a serious mental disease. Lydia Corry and Caroline Walker established the concept of their show by rummaging through his writings on love and became particularly intrigued by the way he describes vision in terms of a physical exchange between the eye and the object of perception.
The exhibition brings together Walker’s paintings, which operate within the language of realism, referencing an illusionistic painting history, and Corry’s installations, which often deliberately contradict this. ‘We both explore constructions of femininity where images are actively engaged in a subjective ambush,’ explains Walker. ‘The show will set up formal relationships between the works in the space. For example Lydia’s floor piece made out of kitchen lino refers to the space depicted in my paintings.’ The mechanics of looking – receiving and returning information – is key to both their practices, and the show specifically draws on a history of representing woman. However, they adopt these approaches in very different ways.
Corry draws on imagery from popular culture and explains that she has always found magazines fascinating as an anthropological record of the performance of woman. ‘I grew up loving my mum’s collection of Vogue, the earliest dating from the 1930s,’ says Corry. ‘The lyricism of the repeated gestures within them is both alluring and terrifying. This has formed a key interest and developed more broadly as an investigation into the semantics of female depiction from antiquity to present day.’ Whereas the surface in Corry’s drawings is flat and
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part of a reductive process that mediates popular imagery into signs or symbols, Walker employs the recurring feminine gesture common to the female subject of Western painting history. She represents woman as a template, rather than portraiture, often placing her in a domestic environment with the gaze point slightly elevated, merely observing. She revisits Manet because of the balance in his work between the female subject as fiction and the painted space itself as illusion. ‘Manet used the same model for a number of paintings, turning her into different characters,’ says Walker, recalling the prostitute in ‘Olympia’ and the matador in ‘Mademoiselle Victorine Meurent in the Costume of an Espada’ among others. ‘As the subject she was unimportant, becoming a figure onto which different ideas of femininity were projected. In my work, a similar exploration is in play. I use the same model who becomes another prop in a constructed domestic scenario which is fabricated or staged the painting process.’ through
Corry and Walker both studied at The Glasgow School of Art, but it was only when they relocated to London to do their Masters at the Royal College of Art that they met for the first time. The links between their work and the thinking behind it seemed very familiar, suggesting it might be a product of GSA. It is for this very reason that they chose to show their work together in Glasgow. Their title statement has become a way to exhibit together and in future they aim to open up the dialogue of discussing female imagery in representation with a larger group of artists.
Lydia Corry and Caroline Walker: Love is an Ocular Sickness, Intermedia, CCA, Glasgow, Fri 3–Sat 18 Dec.
‘I GREW UP LOVING MY MUM’S
COLLECTION OF VOGUE’